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Occupants Release 77-year-old Illegally Detained Georgian Man

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, April 23
The Russian-controlled border guards in Georgia’s eastern occupied Tskhinvali region released 77-year-old Georgian citizen Elizbar Mestumrishvili after paying a fine for “illegal crossing of border” on Saturday.

Mestumrishvili was detained on Friday in the village of Jariasheni, in Gori municipality, near the occupation line.

Locals reported Mestumrishvili was herding cattle on territory controlled by Georgia when he was kidnapped.

The report by Georgia’s State Security Service says that 126 Georgian citizens were illegally detained by Russia-controlled border guards last year at Tskhinvali occupation line and 52 others at the Georgia-occupied Abkhazia so-called boundary line.

However, the de facto leadership of Tskhinvali claims that the figure is over 500.

“In total, the detainees have paid 827,000 Russian Rubles (around $14,615) and only afterwards were they released,” the breakaway Tskhinvali says.

In most cases detainees are released after paying a fine for which amounts to about $30.

915 people have been illegally detained for “crossing the occupation line” between Georgia and Tskhinvali region since 2010.

Georgian news agency Interpressnews published this information based on data provided by the State Security Service of Georgia.

Illegal detention of Georgian citizens near the occupation line is frequent , particularly in spring and summer, when residents tend to graze the cattle or to pick jonjoli (a variety of capers), mushrooms and firewood.

It is not always obvious where the occupation line has been demarcated, because Russian occupation forces keep changing the so-called borders. This process is informally referred to as "creeping occupation”.

Russia, together with only Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru recognized Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as independent republics in the wake of the Russia-Georgia 2008 war.